Last week the New South Wales government announced schools are scheduled to re-open in October. While face-to-face learning undoubtedly has benefits for both children and parents, the announcement left unanswered a series of important questions about how this can be done safely.
By the time NSW lifts restrictions (estimated to be around October), only 60-70% of the population in NSW — and possibly less in Australia — who are 16 years and over may be fully vaccinated.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended vaccination for children 12 and over, but most of these children will not be fully vaccinated by October, and children under 12 will remain unvaccinated for now.
In NSW, with well over 1,000 cases a day and rising, there will still be substantial community transmission when schools open. It is unclear when schools in Victoria (where cases are also on the rise) will open, but there may still be some transmission in the state when they do.
So, what do we need to do to make sure kids are as safe as possible at school?